September 16, 2009 8:14:00 AM
While growing up in Amory, Chris Wilson was a football fan of the University of Mississippi football team.
Wilson especially liked Ole Miss when Amory natives Rufus French (tight end, 1996-98) and Joe Gunn (running back, 1998-2001) starred for the Rebels.
Wilson aspired to play for the Rebels and was recruited by former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron.
Wilson will be on the field Saturday when the Rebels play host Southeastern Louisiana, but he won''t be in an Ole Miss uniform.
Instead, Wilson will wear the green and gold of the Southeastern Louisiana Lions for the 6:30 p.m. game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
"This is real big," Wilson said of returning to his home state to play his favorite team while growing up. "It''s almost like a homecoming for me. It''s really something I can''t explain. It would be real big if we could get this win. It''s my last year, so it would be real big.
"There are other games that are more important than this game, but this game is sort of special to me. With the coaching change (from Orgeron to Houston Nutt), they didn''t pick me up. It would be big for me to show them what they could have got."
Wilson, a 6-foor-4, 195-pound wide receiver and the Lions are off to a good start this season, winning their first two games. He caught two passes for 21 yards with a touchdown in a season-opening 41-7 victory against Texas A&M-Commerce. He had four catches for 64 yards in a 69-20 romp of Union.
He is the fifth-leading receiver on the squad with six catches for 85 yards, averaging 14.2 yards per catch and 44.5 yards per game.
"Everything is going pretty good so far," Wilson said. "We can''t take off or anything. We''ve got to keep pushing forward. This week we''ve got a big week and we''ve got to keep pushing."
Wilson, a 2006 graduate of Amory High School, transferred to Southeastern Louisiana from Itawamba Community College in Fulton when he didn''t catch on at Ole Miss.
He made an immediate impact last season in his first season at Southeastern Louisiana. He was second on the team with 51 receptions and led the squad with 780 yards and eight touchdowns.
"We''re lucky to have Chris on our squad," Southeastern Louisiana coach Mike Lucas said. "He''s always got a smile on his face. He''s a very hard worker. He''s one of those guys we have in our receiver corp that is a very valuable part. We feel like we have five or six wide receivers that are very, very good."
Lucas said Wilson has made tremendous strides since signing with Southeastern Louisiana and becoming one of the team''s leading receivers.
"I''m very proud of Chris in what he''s done since he''s gotten here," Lucas said. "I believe he''s really learned to like the weight room. He''s become more physical to run after the catch and become a better blocker. Chris power cleaned 340 pounds at the end of our testing this summer. He was nowhere close to that when he got here, so he''s worked very hard to improve his game."
Wilson is one of 14 players with a pass reception for Southeastern Louisiana, which has completed 61 passes for 761 yards in two games.
Simmie Yarborough is the Lions'' leading receiver with 16 catches for 224 yards. He''s followed by Merrick Lanaux with nine catches for 138 yards, Jasper Ducksworth with nine catches for 50 yards, Kory Theodore with eight catches for 143 yards, and Wilson.
"It''s tough for any opponent to zero in on any one of our receivers because we''ve got so many of them," Lucas said. "Chris has a chance to do so many great things, and he''s just scratching his ability."
Lucas would like to see Wilson have a good game against Ole Miss.
"It all depends on what Ole Miss does to us," Lucas said. "We''re going to put four wide receivers out there and it depends on which way they roll and who they try to double and where their safeties are. We expect to get him the football. He''s probably more of a deep threat for us because he can really go up and get the ball. He''s one one of those guys that has a knack for fighting for position and going up and getting the high ball. Yet we''ve seen him run the screens this year real well, too. He''s become a more physical runner after the catch. He''ll be in the plan."